School Age Care: How To Get Back Into The Swing Of Things
School age kiddos have been uniquely impacted by the pandemic. They have experienced a crisis during significant periods of their physical, social and emotional development. This may have generated stress based on their age and temperament. Sometimes they may cope with changed behavior, “acting out”, an uptick in anxious or worried feelings or disconnection from their peers.
As parents and caregivers, it’s our job to meet them where they’re at and do what we can to support and nurture them so they can meet the current challenges and changes.
Here are a few tips to help manage anxieties, calm fears and offer them the boost they (and you) need to get back into the swing of things.
It’s key to stick to a regular schedule. You and your kids may be home a lot more often than you used to, but kids still need some structure.
At KidsPark, our schedule is designed around organized activities while still allowing kids some wiggle room to choose what interests them most. We give regular reminders when it’s time to transition, so everyone knows what will happen and when. Consistency and communication can help calm kids during times of stress.
Be Creative – Introduce New Activities
Who doesn’t like to play? Play fosters creativity in kids. It helps your child learn how to experiment, think, learn and solve problems.
We like to say KidsPark is an invitation for fun because our centers have activity centers built right into them. Some of the school agers’ favorite spots are our after-school clubs, where kids interested in art, cooking, or hands-on science can get their fill. Our Mountain of Energy is a popular place for kids to get some exercise and shake off their wiggles. While our Theater area introduces music, dance, drama and special guest performances to let kids’ artistic and imaginative sides come to life.
Manage Screen Time – Connect with Peers
We get it some screen time is necessary in today’s world. Yet, kids ages 8-18 get a reported average of 7.5 hours of daily screen time! That seems like a lot, right? When children play face to face with others rather than by themselves on a screen, they learn important social skills. Skills like how to get along with others, navigate conflict and make connections. And it’s usually just more fun to play with friends!
The KidsPark model of “play without batteries” encourages school agers by giving them countless opportunities to build confidence in themselves when they come to engage at our centers with peers in screen-free play.
Take Care of Yourself
It is hard to parent if you too, are stressed. You need some alone, grown-up time to relax, take care of business and home, and socialize with your friends. Remember, KidsPark is here for you, too. We’ll fill in while you fill up.
Embrace Your Inner Child or Play Like A Kid
When kids are sporadically apart from friends, parents become substitute friends. Now is the time to revert to your inner child and play like a kid. This means play fair, play to win, follow the rules,… In other words, if a parent appeases their child and allows them to always win, break rules, not share … a new bar is set. These behaviors are a recipe for disaster when they restart play with friends.
It is easier for kids to express their feelings if their parents are open to honestly share how they feel. We all want to be “strong” for our families and model “stoic” behaviors. But, if a child struggles with anxiety it is an immense comfort to know it is an OK feeling. If you are sad, frustrated, or anxious, this is an opportunity to showcase how to accept, cope and overcome these feelings to your child. In turn, they learn essential life skills.
Thankfully, families have found opportunities for fun and parents have continued to foster curiosity and happiness in their kids throughout this transition. It is definitely a time that built stronger family bonds – for sure a time forever in everyone’s memories.